Interview with Author Mara Valderran
I am thrilled to have interviewed author Mara Valderran, who shared with us details of her writing life, her book ‘Heirs of War, Ordained by Fate‘, which was released on 13th October 2013, and answered a few fun questions. This post contains affiliate links.
Mara Valderran is a dreamweaver and storyteller who never grew out of playing pretend. As an adult, she uses her ability to blur the lines between reality and fantasy to spin tales of fearless heroines in fantastical worlds. She’s a fan of more sci-fi and fantasy than she could possibly hope to list, but does hope to one day meet Daniel Jackson from SG1. Or at least the actor who plays him. When she’s not writing, you can find her momming, reading, gaming, and living her happily ever after with her fellow geek in arms.
1) Where did the inspiration for your book come from?
The inspiration for my book came from the bond between myself, my older sister, and my two cousins. We are all so very different, but yet when we’ve come together over the years, it’s felt like this powerful spiritual bond that I can’t describe. It’s magic and that bond has gotten me through the hardest parts of my life.
So that’s where the inspiration for Zelene, Terrena, Rhaya, and Isauria came from, even though their personalities blossomed from the original inspiration. Ariana came from knowing that there are five points to the pentacle and each one represents an element with the top one representing Spirit.
2) How did you plan out the plot?
Me? Plan a plot? HA! Seriously, I’m a pantser down to the very core of my soul. Even though this is a fantasy series, I definitely let the characters take me where they wanted and discovered things along the way. That surprising bit about Kyle? Definitely took me by surprise. After the first draft and my editor got a hold of it, I had to do some rewrites to fix a lot. I outlined everything after the fact.
3) When did you choose the title for your book?
The original title of the series was Sisters of the Circle. One of my best friends Noped that and renamed the series Heirs of War. I only recently added “Ordained by Fate” as the title of the first book instead of just “Heirs of War” when I rebranded the series.
4) How did you come up with the names for your characters?
By doing entirely too much research into the meaning of their names. I wanted their names to mean something having to do with the element they represented. For example, Isauria means “gentle breeze” in Greek (according to those baby naming sites) and Izzy represents Air.
5) Can you give us a hint to any sections that you removed?
I did a massive rewrite, actually. Like I said, I’m a pantser. So that meant a lot of head-jumping from one character to the next in the same section. My editor definitely taught me the difference between third person omniscient and third person limited. And how many exclamation points are too many. There have been so many drafts of this book since I first started writing it in my early twenties that I honestly couldn’t tell you what original scenes made it to the draft I sent my editor back in 2012.
6) What made you choose this genre?
I love magic and the endless possibilities that come with the fantasy genre. Most of the stories I come up with in my head have those fantasy elements. Also, shooting fireballs from your fingertips will never not be cool in my book.
7) How long did it take you to complete your book?
From the birth of the idea? Probably close to seven or eight years. From the first completed draft to the first published edition? Probably a little over a year and a half. From the birth of the idea to the rebranded and revamped version out now? Probably seventeen or eighteen years. I first published Heirs of War in 2013, so this year is exactly 10 years since the first publication.
8) Can you describe your book in three words?
…Is this blog PG13? Because I usually say “Magic and sh*t” and book signings. And surprisingly, people still buy it when is say that.
9) What’s the hardest part of being a writer?
For me, it’s a tie between self-editing and marketing. Editing doesn’t come natural to me, so doing it without guidance is rough. Even doing it with guidance is rough. But marketing somehow always feels self-aggrandizing and makes me feel awkward. I used to be a marketing director for a small publisher, so I can sell the crap out of someone else’s books. But selling mine? Much harder. Which is how I landed on “Magic and sh*t” at book signings. I had elevator pitches, but I felt like a telemarketer delivering them.
10) Why should our readers pick your book up?
You should read Heirs of War, Ordained by Fate if you like books with multiple characters, magic, the bonds between unlikely family, and most of all, snark. Zelene is full of snark.
Pages – 401
Release Date – 13th October 2013
ISBN 13 – 979-8391574330
Format – ebook, paperback, hardcover
Seventeen-year-old Zelene had never believed in magic or prophecies; until the day she was attacked by an assassin with unnatural powers. Now, her life has been thrust into a war between two worlds she knows nothing about and told that she must fight against an enemy determined to snuff out her existence—all because of some ancient prophecy that claims five girls from her bloodline will unite and end the war between the worlds.
The girls are taken back to their home world and discover the ties binding them together. Rhaya has always had an uncanny knack for reading people, but can’t seem to unravel the mystery tying her to Isauria, the new friend she bonded with instantly. For years, Isauria has been dreaming of Terrena, a girl living her life on the run in a magical world ripped apart by the tragedies of war, completely unaware that she is psychically linked to the world she was born in. Zelene sees this connection as a prison rather than protection and can think of a place or two she’d like to shove the crown she supposedly inherited.
When Zelene finds out her long-lost twin Ariana has been captured by rebels, her attitude changes abruptly. She doesn’t know how she can go up against an army of powerful adversaries when her own ability to manipulate the elements remains dormant within her. But time is running out and all that matters to Zelene is rescuing her sister—no matter how much destruction it causes in its wake.
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1) Do you have a writing buddy (i.e. a pet)?
I did when I wrote Heirs of War. I had my cat Sweetie. Sadly, she is not with us any more. But now I do have a new writing buddy in the form of my baby daughter. My baby definitely kicks the laptop more than the cat did.
2) Do you have any writing quirks?
I can write on my phone. I wrote the majority of the third and fourth books with my thumbs using the Wattpad app on my phone. I still do that with current projects and blog posts.
3) Where do you write?
Anywhere I can! I used to go to coffee shops, but now I am usually on my couch using my laptop or pretty much anywhere else (like the baby’s playpen) using my phone.
4) Your book has been made into a movie, you’ve been offered a cameo role, what will you be doing?
I’m actually a community theatre actress, so I’ve given this a lot of thought and I would either be a character Ariana comes across in the second book or I would want to be one of the Duillaine like Nandalia or Solanna.
5) A talking owl has just finished reading your book, what’s the first thing he says to you?
“Who’s who?” in his owl voice. Because I have a lot of characters. A lot.
A big thank you to Mara Valderran for sharing her writing life with us and for a wonderful interview.